Pecan snackin'


The season's pecans, like these from Jan Swoope's front yard, are popular in dishes for the holiday table. But there are also dozens of ways to quickly turn shelled pecans into delicious snacks. Read on for recipes.

The season's pecans, like these from Jan Swoope's front yard, are popular in dishes for the holiday table. But there are also dozens of ways to quickly turn shelled pecans into delicious snacks. Read on for recipes. Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff


Jan Swoope



Right on schedule, a windfall of pecans has blanketed my front yard. I've mentioned in this space before that my husband, Oop, persistently follows their daily drop every year, from one side of the tree's wingspan to the other. I am of some sporadic help in this weeks-long effort. Our pecans are not huge, but they are usually plentiful. There's a feeling of satisfaction in hauling 5-gallon buckets of nuts into Duke Pecan Co. in West Point to have the harvest shelled in short order. We bag them up to give away to family and friends. Most people use them for holiday cooking. Pecans can enhance almost anything from oatmeal to ice cream -- salads, entrees and desserts of so many kinds. But today, the focus is on snacking -- on fairly simple, quick recipes that turn those golden pecans into tempting nibbles.


Starting with basics, you can simply roast pecans, either in the oven or on the range. For the oven, preheat to 300 F and spread pecans evenly on a baking sheet. Bake them 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often until the pecans are fragrant and lightly browned. (You might want to undercook them slightly because pecans will continue to cook after being removed from the oven, says Cool off pecans completely before enjoying.


On the range, place pecan halves in a skillet large enough to prevent overcrowding. Cook over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes until fragrant. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Either way you roast or toast, store your finished pecans in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.



Explore other sweet and savory ways to snack on pecans: Maybe you'll be tempted by the recipe for cinnamon sugared pecans, orange pecan snacks, even microwave pecan fudge and pralines. And here's a completely new one on me -- barbecue pecans.


At my house, our second delivery of full 5-gallon buckets is almost ready to go to West Point for processing. When I bag the shelled results to give away, I plan to add a few of today's easy recipes with them. I hope they'll make for some tasty snacking in the holiday season ahead.






1 cup pecans


1 tablespoon butter


Salt, to taste



  • Preheat oven to 400 F. In medium-sized mixing bowl, mix pecans, butter and salt. Place in a baking pan and cook 10 minutes until pecans are fragrant and lightly browned. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Cool completely. Store in airtight container in freezer or refrigerator.








    1 egg white


    4 cups (1 pound) pecans


    1/4 cup sugar


    1 tablespoon cinnamon



  • Preheat oven to 300 F. Slowly add the egg white to the pecans in a large mixing bowl, tumbling them gently until all the nuts glisten with egg white.


  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar well in a separate small cup.


  • Dust pecans with cinnamon sugar, adding the sugar in several steps rather than all at once, stirring well after each addition.


  • Spread coated nuts on an aluminum foil-lined 10-by-13-inch baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes (without turning). Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly before placing nuts in a container which will seal tightly.


    (Source:, adapted by Dan Lineberger from Brenda Hassler recipe in "Feeding the Flock" cookbook)





    Prep time: 10 minutes plus cooling.


    Cooking time: 11 1/2 minutes



    3/4 cup (one and one-half sticks) margarine or butter


    3 cups of sugar


    1 can (5 ounce) evaporated milk (2/3 cup)


    1 package (12 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips


    1 jar (7 ounces) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme


    1 cup of chopped pecans


    1 teaspoon of vanilla



  • Lightly grease 13-by-9-inch or 9-inch square pan. Microwave margarine (butter) in 4-quart microwavable bowl or casserole on high for one minute or until melted. Add sugar and milk; mix well. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to boil, stirring after 3 minutes.


  • Mix well; scrape bowl. Microwave on high for 5 1/2 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes.


  • Gradually stir in chips until melted. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds.








    1 box brown sugar


    1/2 pint heavy whipping cream


    2 tablespoons butter


    2 cups pecan halves


    1 teaspoon vanilla



  • Microwave the brown sugar and whipping cream for 13 minutes on high in a 5-quart container.


  • Add the butter, pecan halves and vanilla and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls only aluminum foil and let cool before eating.


    (Source: Barbara Galland,






    1 cup sugar


    1/3 cup fresh orange juice


    2 tablespoons grated orange peel


    1 1/2 cups pecan halves



  • Cook sugar, orange juice and orange peel in a large saucepan, stirring constantly, to 230 F on a candy thermometer (or until mixture forms a 2-inch soft thread when spoon is lifted above pan).


  • Add pecan halves. Stir until mixture turns to white crystals and nuts cling together. Spread and separate nuts on waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. Cool before eating.








    2 tablespoons melted margarine


    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce


    1 tablespoon ketchup


    1/8 teaspoon hot sauce


    4 cups pecan halves


    Salt, optional



  • Combine first 4 ingredients, stir in pecans and mix well. Spread pecans evenly in a shallow baking pan.


  • Bake at 300 F for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.








    2 cups pecan halves


    2 tablespoons butter, melted


    1 tablespoon sugar


    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


    1/2 teaspoon chili powder


    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


    1/8 teaspoon salt



  • Toss pecans in butter. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients; sprinkle over pecans, tossing to coat.


  • Spread on baking sheet and bake at 325 F for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool before eating.





  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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